Burnt-Out Cargo Ship With Luxury Cars Sinks Off Portugal’s Azores

March 1, 2022

LISBON — A burnt-out cargo ship carrying thousands of luxury cars, including Porsches and Bentleys, sank on Tuesday off the Portuguese Azores archipelago nearly two weeks after it caught fire, a port official said.

Joao Mendes Cabecas, the captain of the nearest port on the island of Faial, told Reuters the Panama-flagged Felicity Ace had sunk as efforts to tow it began due to structural problems caused by the fire and rough seas.

“When the towing started… water started to come in,” he said. “The ship lost its stability and sank.”

The blaze on the ship carrying around 4,000 vehicles made by Volkswagen Group from Germany to the United States, broke out on Feb. 16. The 22 crew members were evacuated on the same day.

Cabecas said no oil leak had been reported so far but there were fears the fuel tanks could be damaged as the vessel lay at the bottom of the Atlantic at a depth of around 3,500 meters (2.17 miles).

Volkswagen, which said last week the damage to the vehicles was covered by insurance, confirmed the ship has sunk. Insurance experts said the incident could result in losses of $155 million.

(Reporting by Catarina Demony, Additional reporting by Christoph Steitz, Editing by Andrei Khalip, Alexandra Hudson)

Photo: In this undated photo provided by the Portuguese Navy, smoke billows from the burning Felicity Ace car transport ship as seen from the Portuguese Navy NPR Setubal ship southeast of the mid-Atlantic Portuguese Azores Islands. The ship’s crew were taken by helicopter to Faial island on the archipelago, about 170 kilometers (100 miles) away on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. There were no reported injuries. (Portuguese Navy via AP)

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